TLE

Symptoms of TLE

Here's a typical description of a person with temporal lobe epilepsy gives after a seizure: "I get the strangest feeling—most of it can't be put into words. The whole world suddenly seems more real at first. It's as though everything becomes crystal clear. Then I feel as if I'm here but not here, kind of like being in a dream. It's as if I've lived through this exact moment many times before. I hear what people say, but they don't make sense. I know not to talk during the episode, since I just say foolish things. Sometimes I think I'm talking but later people tell me that I didn't say anything. The whole thing lasts a minute or two." (www.epilepsy.com)

Auras

     Auras are mild seizures in a specific part of the brain (in this case, the temporal lobe) that often precede epileptic fits. As such, many patients describe them as "warning signs" that a seizure is about to occur. About 80% of people that have temporal lobe seizures experience auras. Auras manifest themselves in many forms - large-scale studies have recognized over 327 different sensations (Lennox, Cobb, 1933). Though the symptoms range from specific visual and auditory hallucinations to feelings of dissociation (disruption of the connections to one's thoughts and identity) and the inability to speak, their causes are idiosyncratic (as in, they have no specific cause) and are unrelated to the structural region in which the seizure is occurring (Taylor, 1987). In order for an aura to be recognized and classified, the experience must be consistent from one epileptic fit to the next.

Visual Hallucinations

     Because of its individualized quality and associated cultural implications, our website focuses on vision, both how it is used to study temporal lobe epilepsy and how it is impacted. The characteristics of associated visual symptoms are wide-ranging and vary for each individual. They differ from those patients with seizures in the occipital lobe, in the part of the brain where vision is processed. Rather than forming elementary visual images, distortion of figures have been reported. Things may appear smaller or larger than usual or shape, size and distance of objects may be distorted. Sometimes vertigo (the feeling that the world is spinning) occurs, and people have also reported feeling as if they are seeing their own body from the outside. (www.epilepsy.com) Sometimes visual hallucinations can be artifically stimulated so that doctors can study the relationship between hallucinations and seizures further.

Other Behavioral Symptoms of TLE

      While hallucinations of vision and the other 4 senses are common in people with temporal lobe epilepsy, other behavioral symptoms have been associated with having temporal lobe epilepsy. The following symptoms are the most common and are presented

Aggression

     There is a possibility that temporal lobe epilepsy renders an individual at risk for hostile behavior (Taylor, 1969). However, hostility in people with temporal lobe epilepsy differs from other aggressive people in that outbursts occur when individuals are very easily provoked and are interspersed with subdued behavior and retrograde amnesia. Aggression during a seizure is also more commonly against inanimate objects or other people.

Psychopathology

     In 1951, Gibbs identified a high incidence of psychopathology among TLE patients, in the form of Schiziphreniform psychosis. Symptoms attributed to this behavior are depression, anxiety, paranoid ideation and dissociation. If TLE is occurring in the left hemisphere, patients were shown to be predisposed for schizophrenia and paranoic ideation, whereas TLE in the right hemisphere showed a predisposition for affective disorder. Religiosity (which will be discussed in further detail in this website) are also implicated but is difficult to quantify since it is manifested uniquely in different patients.

Emotionality

     It has been shown that emotions may play a role in causing seizures in individuals with TLE, both in the frequency and severity of seizures (Minter, 1979). If such is true, there are implications that psychotherapy would be a good option for treatment of temporal lobe epilepsy. If patients with such problem can learn to control their emotions, their seizures would also subsequently be controlled.

Auras

     Auras are mild seizures in a specific part of the brain (in this case, the temporal lobe) that often precede epileptic fits. As such, many patients describe them as "warning signs" that a seizure is about to occur. Auras manifest themselves in many forms - large-scale studies have recognized over 327 different sensations (Lennox, Cobb, 1933). Though the symptoms range from specific visual and auditory hallucinations to feelings of dissociation and the inability to speak, their causes are idiosyncratic (as in, they have no specific cause) and are unrelated to the structural region in which the seizure is occurring (Taylor, 1987). In order for an aura to be recognized and classified, the experience must be consistent from one epileptic fit to the next.

Temporal Lobe Epilepsy •  Visual learning deficits